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Daniel Hemric to compete in Slinger Nationals

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Cup Series rookie Daniel Hemric will return to his racing roots to compete in the July 9 Slinger Nationals, Slinger Super Speedway announced Wednesday.

The Richard Childress Racing driver will make his debut in the super late model race, which is held on the 1/4-mile track in Slinger, Wisconsin. This year’s race is the 40th edition of the event.

Hemric is a former champion in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour, the Blizzard Series and Southern Super Series.

“Slinger is one of the best short tracks in the country — a place I’ve wanted to race at for many years,” Hemric said in a press release. “The Nationals is one of the top events and has been won by some of the best drivers in racing.”

Hemric won’t be the only NASCAR driver competing in the race. He will join Wisconsin natives Matt Kenseth and Johnny Sauter in the field. Former Xfinity Series driver and Wisconsin native Ty Majeski is also entered.

Hemric will drive a super late model for Wimmer Motorsports.

“I’ve never raced late models in the state of Wisconsin, and I know they have a rich racing history there,” Hemric said. “I’m looking forward to going toe-to-toe with some of those guys at the Nationals this year.”

The race will be held the Tuesday between Cup races at Pocono Raceway and Michigan International Speedway.

The list of NASCAR drivers who have won the Slinger Nationals includes Alan Kulwicki, Mark Martin, Dick Trickle (four wins), Kyle Busch and Kenseth, who has won the race seven times. He last won the event in 2016.

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Roush Fenway Racing partners with Acorns, expands with Wyndham Rewards

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Roush Fenway Racing has announced an expansion of its partnership with Wyndham Rewards and a new sponsor deal ahead of the 2019 Cup season.

Roush announced Friday a new partnership with Acorns, a mobile-first financial wellness technology system.

The company will be on Ryan Newman‘s No. 6 Ford for multiple races, beginning with the Feb. 24 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“Winning is everything to me, it’s what drives me to become a champion in our sport,” Newman said in a press release. “I came from humble beginnings; my father was an auto mechanic who wanted to race but never had the chance to do so. He taught me to invest in myself and never stop growing. I’m excited to represent a company like Acorns that is encouraging all Americans to invest in their future. With the support of like-minded individuals, I hope we can share our successes on and off the race track this season.”

On Thursday, Roush announced an expansion of its partnership with the Wyndham Rewards membership program, who joined the team in 2018.

After sponsoring the No. 6 in eight races with Matt Kenseth, Wyndham Rewards will be on the No. 6 in 10 races this seasons, starting with Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts Clash.

Both announcements follow the news from January that Oscar Mayer would sponsor Newman in “a number of races” beginning with the March race in Phoenix. Oscar Mayer sponsored Kenseth in last year’s Southern 500.

Matt Kenseth confirmed for 10 more races by Roush Fenway Racing

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Roush Fenway Racing announced 10 more races in the No. 6 Ford for Matt Kenseth, who has been sharing the ride with Trevor Bayne since returning to the team in May.

After Bayne drives the car next weekend at Sonoma Raceway (June 24), Chicagoland Speedway (July 1) and Daytona International Speedway (July 7), Kenseth will return behind the wheel for the July 14 race at Kentucky Speedway. He also will drive the next three races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July 22), Pocono Raceway (July 29) and Watkins Glen International (Aug. 5).

The remainder of the races announced Wednesday by the team for Kenseth are:

–Darlington, Sept. 2;

–Indianapolis, Sept. 9;

–Dover International Speedway, Oct. 7;

–Martinsville Speewday (Oct. 28);

–ISM Raceway (Nov. 11);

–Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 18)

According to the release, “additional races for Kenseth are still under consideration.”

A Roush spokesman confirmed Bayne would be in the car at Sonoma, Chicagoland and Daytona. Asked whether Bayne would drive the No. 6 in the other eight races that haven’t been announced this season, the spokesman said the team “was still sorting through the remainder of the schedule.”

Bayne is expected to be in the No. 6 when it’s sponsored by AdvoCare, which will be on the car at Sonoma and Chicagoland.

AdvoCare also is sponsoring the races at Michigan International Speedway (Aug. 12), Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 18), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Sept. 16), Charlotte Motor Speedway (Sept. 30), Kansas Speedway (Oct. 21) and Texas Motor Speedway (Nov. 4).

Kenseth has indicated he won’t drive in the restrictor-plate races, so Bayne likely will be in the car at Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 14) along with Daytona.

 

NASCAR America: Winning Coca-Cola 600 is a memorable feat

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The Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of NASCAR’s toughest events. Starting under the sun and finishing under the lights, every stock car driver wants to win it at least once – and 33 of NASCAR’s best can say they have.

It’s even more special when it marks the first time a driver has won at the top level.

“Everybody remembers the first time they do most things and obviously the first Cup win is something I’ll never forget,” Matt Kenseth said about his 2000 victory. “I caught Bobby Labonte and passed him with like 15 to go, or something like that, so it was obviously a very exciting day. You couldn’t pick a better one to win for your first one.”

Kenseth is one of seven drivers who won their first NASCAR race in the sport’s most grueling event. Notably, the driver he passed for the win that day won his first NASCAR race exactly five years earlier. Labonte won the 1995 edition of the Coke 600.

Last year, Austin Dillon added his name to the list.

“For me, it starts as a challenge from day one of the entire Speedweeks,” Landon Cassill said. “Because the industry is at home in Charlotte, when the fans come to town we get pulled in many directions.”

“For me, it was just kind of forgetting how long the race was and just focus on every lap,” Jeff Burton said. “If you make good lap times and you focus on getting a 100 percent out of the car every single lap, time goes by pretty quickly.”

Burton won two Coke 600s – in 1999 and 2001.

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Matt Kenseth says ‘no problems’ with Trevor Bayne after a ‘good conversation’

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CONCORD, N.C. — Matt Kenseth will return to NASCAR this weekend at Kansas Speedway, and the driver he is at least temporarily replacing in the No. 6 Ford will be there, too.

In a Tuesday morning interview at Roush Fenway Racing, Kenseth told NBC Sports that he expects Trevor Bayne will be at Saturday night’s Cup race.

The two met in person Tuesday at the team’s shop for the weekly debrief, which Bayne commutes to from his home in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“I talked to Trevor on the phone the other day for half-hour or hour; had a good conversation with him,” Kenseth said. “Look forward to seeing him today.

“I think that he’s fine with me. We had a really good conversation, actually. I’m looking forward to working with both of them. If you’re another driver filling in, it’s obviously not the driver’s decision, it’s an ownership thing. So certainly I don’t think Trevor and I have any problems at all.”

The 2003 champion, who also had lunch with Roush teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. last week, has been confirmed in Bayne’s car for Kansas and the next week at the All-Star Race, but Roush hasn’t announced the No. 6 driver lineup for the rest of 2018.

According to two people with direct knowledge of the schedule but who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly, Kenseth will drive in at least the next five race weekends – Kansas, the All-Star Race, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Michigan International Speedway.

In an April 25 news conference to announce Kenseth’s return, Roush unveiled Wyndham Rewards/Wyndham Hotels as his sponsor for select races.

There is a one-week break in the schedule after Michigan before the circuit returns June 24 race at Sonoma Raceway. In February, Roush announced the No. 6 would be sponsored by AdvoCare at Sonoma and in the July 1 race at Chicagoland Speedway. Because of his tight relationship with AdvoCare, it’s expected Bayne will be in the car for those races.

Asked about his upcoming schedule, Kenseth said, “I’m running a good chunk right in a row, then it’s sporadic after that.”

Kansas will mark Kenseth’s first Cup race since finishing eighth in last year’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He joked “what rust?” when asked how he is preparing after missing the first 11 races of 2018, adding he hadn’t spent any time in a driving simulator for this weekend.

“I haven’t done anything,” he said. “I was thinking about doing the Xfinity test Monday (at Charlotte), but everything is just so different other than driving anyway.

“I’m not super worried about that. I guess things you probably worry about is being in a different (team) than I’ve been the last five years. Just everything fitting right, feeling the same. That type of thing. I’m used to having the same brake system, steering, same guy doing my interiors. All that stuff is probably what I worry about more than ‘rust.’ That’s a few laps, and it feels normal.”

But it probably is the longest stretch between races in more than 20 years for Kenseth since the 46-year-old was running Late Models in Wisconsin in the mid-1990s.

Kenseth, who drove at Roush from 1998-2012 before spending the past five seasons at Joe Gibbs Racing, also attended his first debrief with the team Tuesday.

“I’ve been reading a lot of notes and looking at a lot of stuff, so I’m somewhat up to speed,” he said. “As much as I can be without driving yet.”

A display of the car Matt Kenseth will drive at Kansas Speedway was in the Roush Fenway Racing museum Tuesday.

He said he wouldn’t be arriving with any setup or technical ideas from his last stop.

“I don’t have any of that stuff, and I wouldn’t bring it any way,” he said. “It’s not really the way I do things. Until you get in the car and get going and get a feel for everybody, I have no clue where we’re at until we get on the track and get going from there. So I don’t have a lot of ideas until we really get going and get through Friday.”

Kenseth also will be learning a new team this weekend. He said he worked an Xfinity race with crew chief Matt Puccia “many moons ago” but knows him well as a longtime Roush employee.

“I think the goals are the same as everywhere,” he said. “You want to win, you want to make everything better. I think Ricky is showing a lot of speed this year at a lot of different places. He doesn’t have all of them translated into finishes, but he’s been pretty fast at a lot of places. His team has been really good. Feels like they’re definitely on an upswing. It’s hard to evaluate a lot of that until I get really more ingrained in the system, and that’s hard to do until you get racing a few weeks.”

Though he won at Phoenix Raceway last season in his penultimate start of 2017, the expectations at Kansas will be modest for Kenseth, who joked he will “go around in circles as fast as you can. Some things never change.

“I can’t say I have a particular (finish) in mind,” he said. “Obviously I want to go there and learn as much as I can and be productive and not look stupid when you get back in the car the first time. You want the weekend to go smooth, and you want everything to go right. Especially Friday. Anything can happen on race day. I have a little bit anxiety about Friday just not being in the car and making sure everything is going to fit right, the dash is right, working with the spotter.

“All those things give you a little bit of anxious moments until you get through Friday. So I’m looking forward to getting through practice and getting qualified and getting ready to race from there.”

His record at Kansas – two wins and 13 top 10s in 24 starts on the 1.5-mile oval – also offers some confidence.

“I’d like to go there and start off strong and run strong, but it’s hard to know what to expect until you get in the car and actually drive it,” he said. “It’s impossible to even predict if we’re going to be 25th or fifth. I don’t have any idea until I get in the car and get to working on it and go from there and see where our speed is.”